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Why print perfection comes from using 12 colour large format equipment

Printing has come a long way in the last 20 years and anybody who has a printer is probably familiar with the most typical 4 colour printing format. This uses what’s called CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) inks. But CMYK depends upon the paper it’s printed on to really achieve a continuous spectrum of colours through a process called halftoning. Halftoning allows for less than complete saturation of the main colours; small dots of each main colour are printed in a pattern small enough that people view a strong colour. Magenta printed with a 20% halftone for example, will produce a pink colour, because the eye views the tiny magenta dots on the white paper background as lighter and less saturated than the colour of pure magenta ink.

Without halftoning, 4-colour printing might produce just seven colours: the three primaries themselves (cyan, magenta, and yellow), plus 3 secondary colours produced by layering 2 of the primaries (red, green, and blue) plus matte black. With halftoning, a complete continuous series of colours can be produced. The range is still really narrow in contrast to the actual colour spectrum so of course the image is usually a hologram of the original. Other higher quality printing procedures have been invented such as 6, 8 and 12 colour printing to ensure better rendering of real life, original image or media quality.

6 Colour Printers

Originated in 1998 by Pantone Inc under the name Hexachrome, 6 colour printing included orange and green inks added to the conventional (and still the most common setup) CMYK. The additional 2 inks broaden the colour range for better colour recreation. It was, for that reason, also called a CMYKOG (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key, Orange, Green) procedure. Hexachrome was stopped by Pantone in 2008 when Adobe Systems stopped supporting their HexWare plugin software application, however other business have continued to offer 6 colour, albeit under the generic name rather than the trademarked “Hexachrome.”

Hexachrome was however very challenging to adjust properly (which is why it needed the HexWare plugin to begin with), so some 6 colour printers rather use a CcMmYK procedure of adding a light cyan and a light magenta to widen the colour gamut of the middle tone area, which helps enhance the appearance of blue skies and several complexions.

8 Colour Printers

Even with 6 colours, though, printing in large formats still suffer from granularity and 6-colour printing is typically tough to adjust (if utilizing CMYKOG) or uses more ink (for the CcMmYK process) in order to render darker colours. In an effort to resolve these problems, along with improved colour range, 8colour printing was created.

8 colour printing is an expansion of the CcMmYK procedure, this time adding light yellow and “light black” (i.e. gray) to create a CcMmYyKk process. Over the previous formats, 8 colour printing achieves a couple of clear wins

  • Boosts evident resolution.
  • Produces finer details.
  • Guarantees smoother gradient transitions.
  • Produces vivid and crisp colours.
  • Decreases graininess.

However, it also prints slower which can make it expensive and hard to scale.


12 Colour Printers and our set up at Totalposter

Using the 12 colour format is recognised as being by far the most photorealistic especially for large-format printing. The 12-colour procedure takes the CcMmYK process and includes a shiny black (in contrast to the K black, which is matte) and a unique colour “enhancer” (which is usually a kind of gloss) to enhance the look of every print. The staying colours differ depending upon the manufacturer, however in all, 12 colour printing broadens on the CcMmYK colour gamut by over 80%!

We couple the highest quality Canon 60” Giclee Fine Art quality printer to a RIP software (RIP stands for Raster Image Processing). Raster image processing software is a specialized print driver that allows you to have advanced control over the image and printing. RIP software takes an image and converts it into a high-resolution raster image among other photo editing and processing capabilities.

Raster images are also sometimes referred to as bitmaps. The software creates these raster images or bitmaps and allows for image editing, colour customization and processes images for a specific printer and communicates the processed data for final output.

In addition to rasterizing, the software has many capabilities. Our RIP software offers a variety of colour management controls and tools to ensure we have the best possible colour match and can scale, resize, rotate, and invert images.

We want each and every print or poster that we create to be perfect, flawless and able to have UV stability for  >100 years so we use original Canon Lucia colour system inks and professional quality papers and adhesive mediums. 

We hope that helped you understand why 12 colour large format printing is the boss?

Team Totalposter 

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  • Jun 14, 2023
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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